Good Design: Part 1 – The Framework

by Eric Tsai

A designer is a problem solving artist, creative inventor, functional planner, and a forward thinking strategist. Look around you and you will find that every piece of your surrounding are the designed with a purpose, just different in economy of scale, usability and creativity.

What constitute good design? What are the elements of good design? I can go on and on with a long list of elements but in my opinion the short answer should be that good design creates positive synergy, serves its purpose and improves the overall experience. It has to communicate the intend, deliver with style, and it has to work!

From clothing to electronics, from cars to computers, design has a purpose and it’s not about redefining or innovation but to provide solutions. Design solutions can be anything such as a product, or a marketing message, a piece of music, a meal, or a building – they must bring together key objectives and deliver the end result to achieve the stated goal(s).  The challenging aspect of coming up with the solution is the framework that defines the project.

The demanding part of the job is to solve as many obstacles within the provided framework and still be as creative and expressive. For example, to address the need of an affordable automobile there is now a $2,000 Tata Nano and I can guess on the top of the design priorities list for the car are probably cost, safety, fuel economy, and so on while at the bottom of the list are performance, space, and aesthetics.

On the opposite spectrum checkout the $100,00 Fisker Karma S, a plug-in hybrid luxury sports sedan that exhibits style and luxury linked with the hot new word “hybrid.” Different objectives to address different taste.


You really can not say one design is ‘better’ than the other simply because they serve two entirely different markets, concepts, budget and approach. It’s like comparing apples to oranges, they are not priced the same in the market and to that end, cost(budget) plays an important role in how “innovation” come in play from within a predefined creative parameter.

It’s almost more impressive to actually be able to purchase a brand new vehicle for $2,000 than dropping $100,000 on a luxury hybrid because the bottom line is you can buy a lot of Tata Nanos with that amount of money – try 50 Tata Nanos.